Sorry – We’re Closed!

Nothing – but NOTHING* – annoys me more than a business that keeps hours that seem ridiculously convenient for the owners, but insanely inconvenient for me.

*(Okay, lots of things to annoy me more, but right NOW, this is what I’m railing on.)

As a business owner, before you decide what your hours of operation are please consider your core customer demographic. If you’re selling yarn to octogenarians, then 9-5 is probably just fine. But, if you’re selling items that appeal to a wider audience, then you should – at the very least – consider expanding your hours. How? I’m glad that you asked!

Many businesses will poll their customers, first and foremost. When is the most convenient time for them to shop? If you were open on weekends, or for longer periods of time, would they shop more often? Are their friends or family NOT shopping there due to constraints imposed by your hours of operation?

Another tactic is when businesses tout new, expanded hours. This allows them a finite period of time to experience first hand what they’re missing. By expanding their hours on a test basis, they can assess how many phone calls, and how much foot traffic, they’re receiving in relation to what they’re already used to. And it may be an eye opener. A word of caution: if you’re going to try this, make SURE that folks know that you are doing so AND give it enough time to conclusively succeed or fail. In the past, I have spoken with business owners who have done just this – only to find them saying something like, “Well, after two weeks, we didn’t see enough traffic.”

This is where the inner me wants to slap them upside the head and scream, “Well, Duh!” Instead, I patiently explain that this probably is not a good benchmark to base such a profoundly important decision upon. And I’ll be the first to admit that I might be wrong. But I don’t believe that I am.

So, as a small business owner, what can you do about this? First – and foremost – understand and recognize that you’re not a super hero. You cannot work sixteen hour days, seven days a week, without compromising on health, family, customer service, quality of work, or a million other things. I once experienced a business concept that stated that underlings, at their peak, should only be expected to perform at 80-90% of your capabilities. Sometimes, it’s better but don’t expect that it will be. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Consider hiring part time help or, if there’s a family member or friend you trust, consider offering them the work. Trusting someone that you don’t know – especially without supervision – can be a scary thing. I didn’t used to think so, until one of my employees stole almost $7,000 worth of metal from me. Or another one of them stole one of the company’s vehicles. Or the couple who stole money. All these things happened – and they sucked. And a lot of folks out there, no matter how nice they seem, can be prone to moments of weakness. I’ve seen good men do bad things, because no one was there to see them (or so they thought, until they saw the video.) My father always used to say, “Locks keep an honest man honest.”

Still, even with those caveats, here’s the reality: I made more than enough money to cover those losses – and then some – because my company elected to trust some more individuals and offer expanded hours. And you know what? 90% of those guys are gems who would give you the shirt off of their back. So there’s far more good than bad out there.

All in all, at least take a moment to contemplate how this post affects you. Would expanded hours provide more business? More profit? More R.O.I. and a reduced burden rate? If the answer to any of those questions is ‘possibly’, then you need to begin considering a plan of action. The customers are out there. But they can’t shop if you won’t take their money.


~ by digitalninjasmedia on September 8, 2012.

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